About Me:

Aloha! I'm Wendy Kennar. I'm the mother of a seven-year-old son and a wife living in Los Angeles. I was a public school teacher for twelve years until a chronic medical condition made it necessary to leave my teaching career.

I've always been described as "quiet" - really, I'm just biting my tongue. I've got lots to say, and lots of thoughts to share, I just prefer to write them. That's the purpose of this blog. Each Wednesday, I post a personal essay offering my observations and thoughts.

A few fun facts about me: I've wanted to be a writer since second grade, when my teacher, Mrs. Jones, made me a "book" with a yellow construction paper cover. I have never learned to whistle, have always preferred sunflowers to roses, and have spent my life living within the same zip code.

Through the years, my writing has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, United Teacher, GreenPrints, L.A. Parent, DivineCaroline.com, RoleReboot.org, XOJane, and Brain, Child Magazine. Additionally, my personal essays have been included in several anthologies, including: The Barefoot Review, Beyond the Diaper Bag, Lessons From My Parents, Write for Light, Being a Grown-Up: A User's Manual for the Real World, Ka-Pow!, How Writing Can Get You Through Tough Times, Breath and Shadow, The Grey Wolfe Storybook, and Sisters Born, Sisters Found.
I am a regular contributor at MomsLA.com, and you can also find me at Goodreads.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Feel free to comment and share my blog with others!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Publication News

One of my essays has just been published at divinecaroline.com.

Here's the link:


Living With Passion

Dance as though no one is watching you, love as though you have never been hurt before, sing as though no one can hear you, live as though heaven is on earth.- Souza

   Of course, I pray that my son remains safe and healthy.  But I also pray that he continues to live his life with happiness and passion.  His spirit is contagious; I’ve witnessed it first-hand.

   Let me give you an example:

   I spent the first day of my winter break on a date with my number one guy, my son.  We went to the Autry National Center of the American West.  We arrived before the museum opened, so we spent the extra time wandering the Farmer’s Market there.  We marveled at the rainbow of fruits and vegetables; I was astounded that Ryan could identify so many, especially since he refuses to eat some, like cauliflower or tomatoes.  We then sat down while Ryan snacked on Cheerios.  He noticed, and commented on, the things he saw - the man who didn’t push in his chair when he left the table, the man who wore a bike helmet even though he was no longer riding his bike, the baby walking slowly with his parents.  And we listened to musicians singing and playing the guitar.

   The day was crisp, the sky was blue, and I was truly enjoying my son’s company.  I delighted in the pleasure Ryan took from his surroundings.  

   And then my smile grew.  For when it was time to go into the museum, Ryan didn’t walk.  He danced to the music he heard; the music he seemed to feel.  He was oblivious to those around us, and danced his way towards the entrance.  He stopped when the music stopped and applauded the musicians.  And we were both genuinely surprised when two individuals clapped for him, telling us the applause was for “the dancer.”

   Ryan dances because he wants to, because he feels the music.  It is a source of happiness and joy for him, and I hope, for all those around him.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Publication News!

One of my A to Z essays has been included in The Barefoot Review's Winter 2012 Issue.

Here's the link:


You can scroll down on the left to find my name, click on it, and that will take you to my essay.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Praying for Peace

      My fifth-grade students and I had recently discussed the vocabulary word “massacre.”  We used it during a social studies lesson when discussing the treatment of Native Americans at the hands of the American government.  We made distinctions between different deaths.  Some deaths are the result of a natural disaster - a tsunami in Japan or an earthquake in Haiti.  Some deaths are the result of terrorist acts - September 11 and the Twin Towers.  

   And now here’s the word “massacre” again.  But this time it’s being used to describe a horrific nightmare that unfolded in a Connecticut school.

   I can’t find the right words and can’t imagine the terror.  I can’t read of the children without crying.  I can’t look at my son without silently praying for him to remain safe.  Ignorance is bliss; so they say.  For the day these events unfolded, my son was happy at home.  That fateful Friday, my fifth-grade students and I were decorating sugar cookies, distributing them to the hard-working members of our school community.  I was trying to make our holiday celebration a time for thinking of, and doing for, others.  In our safe haven of Room 7, my students were blissfully ignorant.

   And eleven years ago, on a fateful September day, I helped my kindergarten students paint their hands while across the country towers crumbled. 

   Seems to me, it’s getting harder and harder to keep my kids (my son and my students) blissfully unaware.  They are losing their safe places, because their world is being invaded by dastardly deeds.

   And I all can do is keep teaching my kids (again, my son and my students) other vocabulary words like “respect,” “tolerance,” “appreciation,” “compassion” and “peace.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mrs. Kennar's Kinara

   At the front of the classroom, I do my best to pay homage to the December holidays.  There is a small, artificial Christmas tree - a souvenir from my childhood, as well as an over-sized candy cane hanging from the bulletin board.  My menorah is on display as well as a kinara for Kwanzaa.

   That’s when the giggles start.  Mrs. Kennar’s kinara.  I explain to my students that the kinara is not named after me.  And in fact, our family doesn’t celebrate Kwanzaa.  Yet, I look at my classroom display and see my family represented.  My African-American husband, my Jewish mother, my Baptist father.  

   This year, as my son and I lit the menorah on the first night of Chanukah, Ryan practiced singing “Feliz Navidad,” a song he is learning at preschool.  On our table, were a Santa toy and a stuffed animal version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

   As a child, I grew up with the holidays all mushed-together.  A Christmas ham and potato latkes for Christmas Eve dinner.  One present for the first night of Chanukah, a surprise in our stocking, and several presents under the tree on Christmas morning.

   It’s not as important to me that my students be able to spell Kwanzaa or menorah, but that they understand that different people celebrate, or don’t celebrate, differently.  And whatever each family does, or doesn’t do, is okay.  More than okay.  However each family acknowledges the December holidays deserves to be respected.  One way isn’t more right than another.  One way isn’t better than another.

   This year, I am also trying very hard to impress upon my students that this is the season of giving and sharing.  We are having a cookie decorating party on our last day of school, with the stipulation that for every cookie each student decorates, he/she must give one to a member of our school staff as a way of saying thank you for their contribution to our school community.

   At home, Ryan knows Santa will bring him presents if he behaves well.  However, I have not, and will not, ask him what he wants.  I have a fleeting window of opportunity to keep my son innocent about this time of year, and use it to teach him the joy that comes from giving to others instead of using this time as an “I want-I want” time.  So, we sit on the floor, use more wrapping paper and tape than are actually required, and wrap presents for Grandma and Grandpa.  We’re talking about the cool surprises we’ll have for Daddy.  

   We light the candles on the menorah that sits on the table, across the room from our Christmas tree.  Those are our holidays.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


“It is a miracle if you can find true friends, and it is a miracle if you have enough food to eat, and it is a miracle if you get to spend your days and evenings doing whatever it is you like to do, and the holiday season - like all the other seasons - is a good time not only to tell stories of miracles, but to think about the miracles in your own life, and to be grateful for them.”
- Lemony Snicket, The Lump of Coal

We’re surrounded by miracles.  My son is a miracle.  Being able to walk is a miracle I no longer take for granted, not since days and weeks spent in a wheelchair and reliant on a walker.  

The human body is indeed a miracle.  The way it works or doesn’t work.  The way it can repair itself.  The way it grows and evolves.  The way it can fail and break down.

Thanks to technological advances, medical miracles are a fact.  And recently, I am full of gratitude for a medical miracle.  One of my former students (I taught her two years ago) was diagnosed with a heart condition this past summer.  She was tall and athletic.  Boisterous and loud.  Messy and disruptive.  Difficult and defiant.  Personable and friendly.  She and I always hugged when we saw each other in the hall.  And then one day, she and her family learned her heart was no longer doing its job and her life was in peril.

For approximately five months, M. has awaited a heart transplant at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles.  Life goes on for us.  Monday through Friday, my students take attendance, learn new vocabulary words, learn the states and capitals.  But we also made time to remember M.  My students have written letters, drawn pictures, and sent notes to M. to let her know she isn’t forgotten.  I have sent her a novel and Mad Libs and notes telling her I love her.

Miracles happen.  Monday morning, I learned that M. received a new heart on Sunday.  And as I write this, the surgery is being deemed successful.  My class is busy preparing a new batch of cards and notes to send her during her recovery.  And on my whiteboard at the front of the classroom, is a heart with M.’s name inside.  She is one of the many miracles in my life that I am grateful for.